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Julia Menez (00:00):

If you’re looking to level up your points redemptions and make the most out of your points and miles, make sure you check out our step-by-step video tutorials on the Geobreeze Travel YouTube channel. If you’re looking to level up your points’ earning game and get access to points’ earning techniques that you won’t often find online, we’re opening up for another cohort of my signature course, the Points Accelerator, very soon. You’ll get access to exclusive offers like earning five points per dollar on fee-free Visa and Mastercard gift cards anytime you want without having to leave your couch to drive to Staples. Sign up for the wait list by going to geobreezetravel.com/waitlist and check out what some of our students have to say about the course.

Jonathan (00:31):

Hi, my name is Jonathan, and I’m a student of the Points Accelerator program. It’s been about six months since I’ve joined the Points Accelerate program back in September when it first launched. I’m so excited that I’ve just booked two business class tickets on ANA. I’ll be flying from Washington to Haneda. Each ticket costs 85,000 ANA points plus $700 taxes and fees per ticket. If I were to book these tickets for a cash price, it would’ve cost around $12,000 USD per ticket. So I’m really excited to be able to fly business class with ANA because each ticket costs so much when paying in cash. This will be my first business class flight, so I’m really excited about that. I’m really excited to be saving that much money with what I learned with the Points Accelerator program. I also really like that the program has a calendar that tracks all the current promotions, transfer bonuses so I can keep track of everything in one place.

Mark Ross-Smith (01:22):

We’re going to see a lot of status matching this year, new opportunities because brands are looking at this and they’re going, “If an airline is willing to downgrade hundreds of thousands of customers,” admittedly these are not so active because obviously they’d otherwise retain it, but they’re still flying. They’re still doing stuff. They’re still alive. Still got a pulse, and they’re at least interested in it. We did a survey on statuscliff.com, and we sent it out to tens of thousands of people who said, “If your airline or hotel downgrades you, what are you likely to do?” [inaudible 00:01:57] it goes through that, 86% of people said that, “If I’m downgraded, even if it’s my own fault that I’m being downgraded,” 86% said that they would shift some or all of their business to a different brand.

Julia Menez (02:08):

Hey there, Points People. You just heard a clip from Mark Ross-Smith, founder of Travel Data Daily and CEO of StatusMatch.com. Mark has run airline loyalty programs and consulted and advised across airline, hotel, and telco industries. Mark is a globally recognized award-winning airline loyalty thought leader, and he’s known as one of the brightest minds in loyalty. Mark’s unique approach to loyalty has received industry acclaim, and his work is referenced in major media including CNN, BBC, South China Morning Post, The Star, The Economist, Financial Times, Executive Traveller, Skift, and many more. In this episode, Mark and I discuss the past, present, and future of status matching and what to possibly expect from different loyalty programs if you want to get those coveted upgrades and other extra perks on your next flight or hotel stay.

(02:50)
One of my favorite statuses is Hyatt Globalist, and one thing that makes earning status easier with Hyatt is having a World of Hyatt credit card. By putting expenses on the Hyatt business or personal cards, you can effectively get the requirements for earning Hyatt status reduced. If you’re a business owner with large expenses, you can earn Hyatt Globalist Status through the Hyatt business card even if you’ve never stayed at a Hyatt hotel before. Remember, if you decide to apply for the Hyatt business card, Hyatt personal card, or any other card, never apply directly through Google. Always use a friend or creator’s referral link. If you’re interested in supporting this show when you apply for your next card, check out geobreezetravel.com/cards. If you’re not sure what card is right for you, I offer free credit card consultations at geobreastravel.com/consultations. We have links to the World of Hyatt Cards and the free consultation form for you in the show notes as well. And now on with the show.

(03:36)
Welcome to the Geobreeze Travel podcast, a show for anyone wanting to level up their travel hacking lifestyle. I’m your host, Julia Menez. I’m a travel hacker coach, speaker, Filipino American, ENTJ who loves Solid travel gear, and using shortcuts on spreadsheets. On this show, I’m on a mission to bring you travel hackers from all walks of life to help you level up your travel hacking game. We dive into credit cards, miles, points, strategy, mindset, and the secrets behind how to travel the world for next to no cost. So let’s get hacking. Hey, Mark. Welcome to the Geobreeze Travel podcast.

Mark Ross-Smith (04:11):

Hey, Julia. It’s great to be with you.

Julia Menez (04:13):

Great to have you here. I am excited to talk about one of my favorite topics today, which is status matching. Because whenever people ask how I have status with Hyatt, Delta, American Airlines, MGM, Caesars, Wyndham, and a whole bunch of places I don’t actually stay with, yeah, I don’t actually stay at that many hotels, I don’t fly nearly as much as the internet makes it appear, I get a lot of those statuses through status matching. So I’m excited to chat with you today about all the ways that people can do that. But before we jump into that, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into the game of points and miles and status matching and everything else related to being a frequent flyer?

Mark Ross-Smith (04:52):

I’m a 20-year veteran on FlyerTalk. I guess that’s how it all started, I’m kind of showing my age here, but in 2002 or ’03 it was, I believe. That’s kind of when I got really interested in it because I wanted free upgrades. I’m just starting out my business travel journey at that age, and I wanted free upgrades. I was living in Australia at the time, and Qantas has a pretty good business class product. I’m like, “How do I score these things? Because I ain’t paying thousands of dollars to sit up front. How do I get this for cheap?”

(05:18)
That’s kind of where it all started. I started meeting a lot of people along that journey, a lot of people on FlyerTalk and some of these other forums at the time. You start meeting up in person. You share your tips and tricks and stuff like that. Then that’s what kick-started the whole getting into this stuff. Once you’ve got that bug, it never really leaves. It’s not like you take a pill and it goes away. You got it for life. You’re stuck with it. So anyone else out there has got the same thing.

Julia Menez (05:43):

Oh, many, many listeners know what you’re talking about where business class across the Pacific or across the Atlantic has completely ruined economy for them on international flights, so they just get deeper and deeper into the points and miles game. We’ve had a couple episodes about Australia on the show. The consensus is generally it’s way harder to earn points and upgrades for everybody who lives in a country where you guys have government-sponsored maternity leave. So how were you able to earn a lot of those upgrades and a lot of those points? It’s a little bit harder for everybody outside of the US.

Mark Ross-Smith (06:20):

Yeah, you’re right. Pretty tricky now, especially there’s a lot of demand as well for people traveling across trans-Pacific. I was really fortunate that I started this back in the day, back in the black and white days in the mid to late 2000s when I was doing a lot of Australia-US trips. I’d paid my way basically flying a lot, got platinum status with Qantas at the time. Back in those days, it was really straightforward. If you had status, no matter what seat you were buying, the chance of you getting upgraded, pretty high. So it’d be a lot of times I’d book that economy seat or I’d use points to redeem, which back then are actually very good value. Even a lot of redemption seats, I’d get upgrades to business class as well. You’re talking 12, 13 an hour business upgrade. That’s a good deal. Even if you’re using points, suddenly the value of the points, even if you think it’s a really terrible redemption, you get a free upgrade. It doesn’t matter at that point. We’ll call them the glory days.

(07:17)
It’s a little bit different, I think, these days where there’s a lot demand. Airlines are more sophisticated in terms of how they sell seats now, so to snap up that redemption or to get an upgrade, it’s just a little bit harder, I think. I think that’s where podcasts like this and some of these forums and blogs, I think, is really valuable because you can start to learn some of these tips and tricks. It’s ever evolving. You know what I mean? Things that worked for me, say 5, 10, 20 years ago just don’t apply these days. Back in the day, it was dress up in a nice suit, smile at check in, chat up the little girl there, and get an upgrade. It doesn’t work like that these days, sadly.

Julia Menez (07:53):

Did it ever actually work like that? I thought that was just a myth that that once upon a time actually worked.

Mark Ross-Smith (07:59):

I’m just going with it. It never happened to me, but I’m just going with it because it sounds like a good story. Why not, right?

Julia Menez (08:04):

I don’t actually know anybody who’s actually gotten an upgrade that way. I thought it was just this long running joke that if they think you’re a business traveler and you’re dressed super nice, I was thinking maybe if it worked, it was 1980 or something way back when.

Mark Ross-Smith (08:18):

If you said these two magic words at check in, you’ll get an upgrade: revenue management.

Julia Menez (08:24):

Yes. The revenue management secret password does not work. It’s not like the secret Kimpton password where if you say things like “The snuggle is real or no more sweatpants,” they’d give you free drinks or something at Kimpton Hotels. Yeah, that doesn’t work with airlines if you just say the words “revenue management,” like “open sesame.” They’re not going to just let you into business class with that, if anybody’s ever read that myth on the internet.

Mark Ross-Smith (08:46):

I’ve heard it’s a secret handshake now. So you’ve got to be up to date with the secret… whatever that is, and then you get an upgrade.

Julia Menez (08:54):

This is why people follow all of the different Instagrammers and why people on Instagram just post nonsense sometimes about, “Oh yeah, and you say the secret password or dress the secret way or book your flights on a Tuesday.” None of that is real.

Mark Ross-Smith (09:07):

I don’t think so. Those days are long gone, I think.

Julia Menez (09:10):

When you were traveling back and forth a lot and you were able to get status the good old-fashioned way with Qantas during the glory days when it was a lot easier to get upgrades, how did you then decide, “Oh, I want status with other airlines as well”? Did that get you into status matching? How did you even come across the concept of status matching?

Mark Ross-Smith (09:31):

I had a business in Australia. I sold that in 2013. At that point, I decided I wanted to live overseas. I wanted to live in new country. So I shipped myself off to Hong Kong because I like Asia, I like Hong Kong, a busy happening city. At that point, I was already VIP status at Qantas. They had this new super elite tier, and I’d hit that. In Hong Kong, I thought, “I want to live here. This is an awesome city. And I want a status match because I want to fly Cathay more,” forgetting the whole one more thing for a second here, “I want to fly Cathay, and I hear their Diamond status,” which was their top, “has got some cool unofficial perks.” I thought, “I want this, but I don’t want to start from the bottom.”

(10:12)
In my mind, I’d proven myself with one airline. Why can’t I just get a status match? So I asked Cathay Pacific for a status match and they said no. Actually, they said, “We’ll give you Silver.” I’m like, “Dudes, I’m up here, and you’re offering me something down here. That’s not a match. It’s a slap in the face.” So I thought, “This would be odd. Why wouldn’t they want me as a…?” Keep in mind, I sold the business. I’m effectively unemployed at this point, bit of money, but unemployed. What am I going to do next? I thought, “I’m going to investigate this.” Why do airlines not want people like this? Why are they just so quick off the bat just to say no? That’s what effectively started the whole status match, getting into this game.

(10:52)
I’d not worked for an airline at that point. I’m just a frequent flyer, like the millions of other people out there. So I decided, I started paying my way to industry events. I just started going to airline events, to loyalty events, just paying my way. And they’re not cheap. They’re thousands dollars to get in. Because you think about it, if you want to learn about the business of airline or hotel loyalty, how do you learn about that? You can’t. There’s no Google course. There’s no university. You’ve got to basically work at an airline or a hotel. So I sort of got into that.

(11:25)
What I realized is that there was no standard process. There was no standard way that airlines or hotels were doing status matching. Status matching as a concept has been around since at least 1986, so it’s not a new thing. So you’d think airlines would have had this figured out at this point. This is a customer acquisition tool. “We’ve got people that are Gold, Diamond, Platinum, whatever, presumably spending tens of thousands of dollars with another brand. I want them as a customer.”

(11:55)
If someone wants to be my customer, I’m going to spend 10,000 bucks with you, I’m going to reply to your email in 60 seconds. I’m on my phone driving, “Oh, yeah, I’ll take your money.” Where airlines, you email them, say, “Can I get a status match?” and they just sit on it for six weeks. They say, “Oh, maybe. We’ll get back to you.” It’s just really terrible customer experience. So I thought, “Someone’s got to fix this.” That’s kind of really what drove the momentum behind starting StatusMatch.com, and figure out what I needed from there to piece things together to effectively solve it on behalf of the industry because the industry had not managed to pull their socks up at that point, I will say.

Julia Menez (12:31):

I have so many follow-up questions. First of all, who even attends loyalty program conferences? Is this just for the industry? How are you getting into this? It’s just they sell tickets to the public to which zero people would be interested in paying $2,000 to go to an industry meeting.

Mark Ross-Smith (12:47):

Fun fact, the first industry event I went to was in Amsterdam. It was a travel loyalty event, February, 2014. Funny enough, it was a redemption ticket to get there. I think it was about $2,000 I paid to get in. It was not a cheap thing. It’s a B2B, so it’s program managers, people [inaudible 00:13:07]. It’s not travel hackers. It’s not frequent flyers. The first 10 minutes of listening to some of these talks, I realized that I knew a lot more than I thought I did and just like you do and millions of other people out there.

(13:22)
See, people when they work at airlines and hotels, they’re very… They’re smart people, don’t get me wrong, very smart, but they’re very focused on this. Like, “I work at an airline.” If you work at an airline, you don’t have the credit card. Why do you need it? You get your free flights. You don’t need miles. When you do fly, you’re on a staff ticket. It’s cheap. You’re paying 50 bucks for a first class cross-country flight. You go to a different check-in area. You got a different booking process. If you don’t get on the flight, you get a refund. The experience you go through as an employee is vastly different to you and me and a lot of other people out there. So there’s a bit of a disconnect.

(14:01)
So when they come to decision making in the loyalty program, like, “Should I do this? Should we do this?” that’s why they have focus groups. That’s why they ask frequent flyers because them themselves personally, they’ve never sat in that back row on a 12-hour flight middle seat with three screaming babies behind them and you need to get home for a meeting, to see grandma, whatever it is. They just haven’t done that. And you paid $10,000 that ticket because it’s last minute. They have never done that in their lives, not all of them, a lot. You think that decision-making flows over into when they’re thinking about the program, and that’s why they have to get external advice because they themselves have less of that experience.

(14:40)
So being at these conferences, you realize in the room, this is a job for them. Whereas for you and me and everyone else, it’s a lifestyle factor. We like doing the points of that game. We like the redemptions. We like going to the airport early because I have to go to this lounge at LAX. I can get into the Qantas First Lounge, and I can have the steak and all the champagne there. Oh, yeah. We’re thinking, “I’ve got to get there four hours ahead so I can drink three bottles of champagne that’s worth $800 before I can get on the flight.” Whereas now employees, “What’s the last possible minute I can get to the airport?” It’s just a very, very vastly different experience. So attending these events, they do exist. There’s quite a lot of them. Not cheap. It’s very industry-focused. Learning the business side of stuff is really, really quite fascinating.

Julia Menez (15:31):

What year was this when you went to the first conference and they were like, “Oh, we don’t want to give out status matches to people who are spending $10,000 because the world has vastly changed,” since whatever year this was?

Mark Ross-Smith (15:46):

That was 2014. It has changed a little bit since then. Fast forward a little bit in there. So between then and we launched StatusMatch.com about two years ago, in the middle of pandemic. Between then, I managed to get a job at an airline. Basically, we’ll call it work experience, but it wasn’t. It was really great to see the inside of that. So I ran loyalty at Malaysia Airlines. I was head of loyalty at Malaysia Airlines, and I ran their first status match as well. I thought, “Let’s get some customers, I’ll run a status match.”

(16:18)
It was kind of a challenge. I had mixed results, I will say, but learned a lot and really learned why airlines are more reluctant to do it from the inside because it’s not every day you bump into the director of loyalty at an airline. They’re not going to tell you why they didn’t do a status match. They’ll give you some answer like, “Oh, ROI is not there, or it devalues the product,” or something like that. That’s not the real reason. The real reasons are someone in management doesn’t like the idea, or, “John spent $100,000 to get his Platinum status and you want to give this away for free?” Fraud’s another big factor why they don’t do it. Sometimes airlines in some alliances have restrictions around how they can give out statuses, and they’ve got limits and all sorts of stuff, which is why you see some airlines more proactive in this space and others less so because they’ve got these other moving parts around them that they need to manage as well.

(17:15)
Do airlines want new customers? I think some do these days, some less so, and some just haven’t seen the light yet. They haven’t seen what… Status matching, say, 10 years ago, vastly different to what it’s today. It’s totally different. In the US, it’s actually about co-brand credit card acquisition. So if you’ve got status with an airline, the chance of you getting that credit card with the airline skyrocket at that point. Airline loyalty programs, as we all know, can be worth more than the airline itself, and that’s driven by the credit card. I’m generalizing, in some ways, the airline doesn’t want you to fly. They just want you to get the credit card because there’s more value in you doing that. What’s the best way to get you that? Give you status match.

Julia Menez (17:55):

That’s a great point. That’s how I get a lot of my statuses. I do stay at quite a few Hyatt hotels. But honestly, if you have a business or just a lot of expenses in your life and you have the World of Hyatt credit card, for those of us who are stateside, you spend $120,000 in your business, which is nothing for a lot of business owners, automatic top tier Globalist status. If, worst case, you put, I forget exactly the number, $200,000, $240,000 on an American Airlines credit card, Executive Platinum status. So you can get top tier status with a couple programs really easily just by getting those cards. You’re completely right.

(18:32)
I wanted to circle back to how you mentioned fraud. How are airlines guarding against that? Because there are a ton of people on Reddit and FlyerTalk, and I know some of them, who will photoshop up different loyalty cards and be like, “Look, I totally have Mosaic with JetBlue. Please status match me over to this other thing.” How do airlines even guard against that?

Mark Ross-Smith (18:54):

Until we came along, there was no safeguard at all, zero, and airlines just… Imagine if you run a big above-line status match campaign, let’s rewind a few years, and let’s say, I’m making it up, 5,000 people apply, send you an email… Because that used to be the way, “Send us an email and a screenshot, and write a short story begging for status of why you’re moving to this city or your travel, whatever,” some nonsense thing you just had to put there. That was the old, clunky way.

(19:26)
If you think about it, if you’ve got 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 emails, people applying, the person going through these emails starts looking at a lot of screenshots, and they can start comparing them because one of them is real, at least, two of them are real, three of them, hopefully all, but they’re not. A big chunk are not. It’s not uncommon to see 50% fraud rate, illegitimate stuff. It can be that high. We obviously knock that down to extremely low, almost zero number with the brands we work with a lot of the time. But most part, photoshopping doesn’t get you too far these days because there’s ways to verify status. There’s ways to verify if you’re on a trial status or challenge with an airline.

(20:08)
We centralized a lot of this as well. So if you apply for a status match with one airline that we work with and then another one we work with, say, a year later, we see that. We protect the brands we work with. Obviously, it’s not in their interest for you to… Probably everyone’s familiar with chain matching. You get perhaps one. You use that to get to the next one, that to get the next one. Let’s not talk about casinos for a second.

Julia Menez (20:29):

The merry-go-round. It’s so popular where you just match from Hyatt to MGM, then MGM back to Hyatt, and then you go back and forth, and then same with Caesars and Wyndham. People are so upset that Caesars doesn’t match to MGM anymore. But if you have Hyatt status and you have a Wyndham Business Earner credit card, you can do the back and forth merry-go-round every year, get that Caesars $100 dinner credit every year.

Mark Ross-Smith (20:53):

It’s a great deal if you can do it. Go for it. I was at an industry event just a few months ago. There was someone from a well-known airline telling me how they personally do this as well. So it’s not just what we’ll call a travel hackers thing. People work at airlines do this as well. They know about it, not everyone. I don’t know how long that’ll last, but totally milk it while you can. Because why not?

Julia Menez (21:14):

At least you guys are guarding against fraud a little bit. Hopefully, that also makes it so that there are more status matches in the future. Because I imagine if some airline did a campaign and 50% of the applications that came through were illegitimate and they were people who don’t actually spend any money, that would ruin it for a lot more people as well. When you first came up with StatusMatch.com and the idea, and you founded this during the pandemic, what was that transition like from running loyalty at Malaysia Airlines and then going over to say, “I’m going to build this new thing for StatusMatch.com”? What was the idea behind it, and how does it work?

Mark Ross-Smith (21:52):

Early 2020, obviously airlines were screwed is the right word, I think. Being in the industry, I thought, “If I want to stay in this industry, I need to help the industry. I help the industry, it helps me.” That’s loosely the logic. In definitely my part of the world, in Asia, the planes were all grounded. No one was flying. At the same time, airlines were like, “How do we get cash? What do we do? Do we go to governments? We beg for the money?” this kind of stuff.

(22:19)
I thought, “I’m pretty good at starting businesses. I’ve done that before, and I’ve got this experience in airlines before as well. What could I do?” I’m not curing cancer, but I’m out there just shining a little light in my little corner of the world. What could that be? If anyone was ever going to start a status match platform system, who would that be, realistically? It’s got to be someone that understands the airline side, understands the consumer side, and blends them together, takes what works in each of them and sort of make that work. I thought, “I’ll do it.” There was me and a couple other guys. The other couple guys we founded with both of them have run airline loyalty programs as well.

(23:02)
So we got our heads together and thought, “What could this look like?” We started building some stuff, and we had a pretty good prototype. So we went to approach Frontier Airlines at the time, this is in late 2020, and we said, “Look guys,” they’d just run a status match a few months prior, and we said, “We’ve got this great system. I think we can make you some money. This is totally new.” So effectively launched the world’s first paid status match where you paid $49 to apply for a status match. There was a very structured process, so it wasn’t “Send an email with a screenshot.” It was like, page one, name, email, page two, tell us about the program, page three, and then payment obviously.

(23:42)
This is the first time the world had really seen a proper paid status match offer. 50 bucks is reasonable, maybe cheap, and the uptake on that was extremely high. There was a lot of demand for it. I remember one of the bloggers saying this is very on point for Frontier charging for a status match, just trying to ancillary the heck out of everything. So that kind of worked well with their theme, did really well, and obviously, we ran another one with them.

(24:10)
That opened up the idea of making money from status matches because traditionally it’s just been free. That’s just how it rolls. But it’s free, but 20 years ago bags for free on every airline as well, and now they’re not effectively, unless you’ve got status or some waiver. So this has kind of opened up some airlines’ idea on what status matching means, how you can monetize it. We’ve got all sorts of crazy stuff that we’ve built into the [inaudible 00:24:38]. We’ve built upsells and things like that.

(24:40)
Let’s say you’ve got a Silver level over here, you match to a Silver level on this airline. But imagine if it offers you, “For an extra,” I’m making it up, “$200, how would you like Gold with this airline instead?” So you’re not matching anymore. You’re getting a one up, and you’re paying for it. This has a lot of really great benefits because as a frequent flyer I’m matching. I’m effectively buying status at this point for cheap. Because if you go to America Airlines and say, “I want to buy an Executive plan, how much does it cost me? I have nothing. How much do I have to pay?” they’ll come back to you and say $50,000. It’d be some ludicrous amount that no one would ever do.

(25:26)
So effectively turning status match as an idea into a proper product that can be ancillarized and help airlines obviously get new customers, what we’ll call it legitimate customers. If you think about it, if you paid 50 bucks, 100 bucks for a match, are you going to use it? The answer’s yes. You’re much more likely to stay at the hotel, to fly their airline because you’re like, “I’ll show them. I’ll use it now. I’ll spend the X dollars to fly. I’ll at least try it out.” In which case, that’s all the airline could ever ask for. They’ve at that point then generated incremental revenue they would never have received without offering you that status match. That’s one of about 10 different benefits. Effectively, it’s good for the airline, and if you really think about it, it’s actually good for the frequent flyer at the same time.

Julia Menez (26:15):

I didn’t know that you guys were the ones behind that Frontier status match. That’s super cool. I think that’s a really interesting just look into the future of what status matches would be like where there is some nominal fee, $50, $100, and then you can jump the line in status. I think a lot of people are trying to do that where they’re like, “How do I get Globalist really fast? How do I get Executive Platinum really quickly or United 1K? Is there just a credit card I can apply for and then pay the annual fee?” Not with a lot of them. Hilton Aspire is the only credit card that really has top tier status that just comes with the card. But with these types of status matches, you could effectively just pay some fee and then get top tier status. That’s super cool.

(26:58)
What are some of the brands that you are most excited about where you’re like, “Status has historically been really difficult to get with this brand. But if we offered up some kind of status match, it would be really beneficial for this brand, and people would get really excited for it as well”?

Mark Ross-Smith (27:15):

You know what I love about this is this is blending, just like you, stuff that I love doing with business. Obviously, it’s a full-time job for me doing this. So I get to talk to airlines all day about status matching, which is fantastic. I know a lot of airline people around the world, and there’s a lot of education there. Showing them how it works. They know what a status match is, but they don’t know how good it can be. It’s like saying you know what a car is. Here’s your 30-year-old Toyota that you’re driving around, and I come along with this Lamborghini and I say, “Check this out.” You look at it and you go, “Yeah, it gets me from A to B. How practical is it? What’s the ROI?” This [inaudible 00:28:01] sound stupid. But you get in, you test drive it, and you’re like, “This is amazing. I need this.”

(28:06)
That’s pretty much how it goes when we talk to airlines. Once you get through that education barrier, the minds light up to possibilities. Like, “We never thought about this. What about this? We could target corporates doing this other thing over here, and we can make money out of doing this as well.” There is zero costs. Most of the brands we work with, we don’t charge them. It’s free because we charge the customer. We can offload all the customer support to the airlines because, God forbid, you want to call… Some airlines, you can’t even call anymore. Looking at you Frontier. So doing the heavy lifting for them, I think, has been pretty beneficial on why a lot of them have come on board with us. We’re obviously talking a lot and sign up more all the time. But there’s definitely that education part there.

(28:50)
We’ve pitched things to airlines that they’d never thought of. You probably remember about a year ago, there was a big Air Canada status match in conjunction with the Canadian government with Destination Canada. There was a tourism marketing board there. It was a three-way thing where we sort of hooked it all up for them. So we actually went to both of them and pitched it to them. We said, “Hey look, we see this opportunity here. Why don’t you do it?” So there’s a bunch of airlines, hotels as well out there where opportunities… some come to us, and we basically take it to the airline and say, “Look, you’ve never thought of this before. You haven’t done it before. Here’s why you should do it.”

(29:21)
We come with the airline logic, internally how they would pitch it internally and get it across the line. Whereas if you go reading Points Guy or something like that, you look at it and it’s very consumer-focused, and why should you do status matching, and people doing this and then chain matching. It’s a different story. So we help connect the dots in that way for airlines and hotels to make it a little bit easier for them to start this journey on customer acquisition in ways they most of the time have never done before.

Julia Menez (29:50):

You mentioned you don’t charge the airlines for this service. How does StatusMatch.com make money?

Mark Ross-Smith (29:56):

A lot of brands work for free. We charge the consumer. So like the Frontier example I said earlier, back in 2020, 2021, we charged an application fee. Obviously, the economics of that mean that we can effectively charge the customer instead of the airline. There’s a bit more to it than that obviously. Some airlines we work with, they want to give a free status match for the customer. Again, the economics behind that are slightly different. But we just try to make it really easy for the brands we work with and the customers. There is a willingness to pay for a status match, I will say that, and there’s a lot of benefits actually of charging. People are more serious about it. They think twice: “Do I really want this or not? Am I willing to pay the $100?” or whatever it is now. As demand increases for satisfaction, we’ll see probably the prices rise a little bit because of that.

(30:43)
At the end of the day, an airline doesn’t want a million people doing it. Think about the big three US airlines, they’ve probably only got a million Elites each, and so they can’t really add another million. It would destroy their lounges. There’d be overcrowding. You got to think about if someone like Delta had a million new Elites tomorrow, half of them go flying over to Europe on KLM and Air France and stuff, suddenly all their lounges are busy. Suddenly, airlines are making less money from bag fees and seat selection and all sorts because they’re not charged for a lot of the Elites. There’s a bit of management around volume as well. Generally, I think this is definitely the trend. We’re going to see more fees but in a way that adds value, not just a “Let’s just charge you more because we can.” I think there’s got to be a real value-add behind it. So that’s effectively where we come in.

Julia Menez (31:38):

If you could be gifted any status in the world from any airline or any hotel where they just give you on a silver platter, “Here’s top tier status with our program,” which one would you pick? What do you think is the best value status out there that you’ve ever seen? Which of your brand partners do you love most?

Mark Ross-Smith (31:57):

I’ll have to share this podcast with them just to get extra brownie points, I think. I’ll tell you a story. This won’t answer it, but it might. At the end of last year I was in Europe for a bunch of conferences, and I flew Emirates on the way there. I paid my own way, no freebie tickets there. We work with Emirates, they’re a client of ours, that said, “Hey, let’s catch up.” I got a transit in Dubai. They’re like, “Oh, we’ll come to lounge and meet you for breakfast.” I thought that was nice. Little did I know they’d flagged my ticket, done some sort of magic thing to it to the point where when I walked into the airport here in Malaysia, this lady from Emirates came running over to me and said, “Are you Mr. Ross-Smith?” I’m like, “Yes, yes.” We’ve been expecting you. Let me take your bags.” I’ve just walked in the front door. I don’t know if you’ve been off [inaudible 00:32:45] Airport. The front door to the check-in is a good 20, 30 meters kind of thing or feet.

(32:51)
That was the start of that experience, and I sort of got VIP through the whole thing. Escorted to the lounge. She said, “Do you want to be first aboard the aircraft or last aboard today?” I thought that was nice. I’ll be first. I want to beat the women and children and trigger everyone else. Anyway, long story short, that obviously flowed over into the transit in Dubai and all sorts of stuff. I was treated extremely well. They’ve got a very special invitation-only level above their Platinum tier. I was told that was more or less the treatment that that tier gets. So if I was to choose one, I’d choose that based on the experience because it was damn phenomenal, really phenomenal.

(33:31)
A lot of these, it’s actually light touch stuff as well. It’s not hard benefits. I was Platinum One with Qantas for a while, which is kind of like their concierge key type level there. I’ve got a lot of hard benefits there. I’ve got a lot of tickets to sporting events and got fly with John Travolta on his 707 [inaudible 00:33:47] aircraft back in the day. That was kind of cool. He obviously doesn’t have that plane anymore. So I got a lot of those kind of benefits.

(33:53)
But at the end of the day, if you’re a frequent flyer, if you’re flying a lot, what you actually value the most, no one likes to hear this, but it’s true, it’s when you’re flying, you want things to go right. It should just feel so effortless when you fly and everything. The waters should just part when you come to walk. Do you know what I mean? There shouldn’t be any lines anywhere, no queues. It should just be really easy. I think any status that provides that is one that I would want, if I’m flying a lot.

Julia Menez (34:20):

I would actually go the other direction. Because I ask this to a lot of people whenever I’m at a points meetup or anything, what status would you choose given to you on a platter? Most people would choose an airline status because they’re like, “Oh, I want to fly the super nice Emirates first class or Singapore Suites or any [inaudible 00:34:36] apartments or the [inaudible 00:34:37] residences or anything like that.” But I think there’s a limit to how nice it can be on the plane. What you mentioned about skipping lines and everything, that is definitely priceless from a convenience standpoint. But there’s only so many seats on the plane. They don’t have a secret invitation-only section of the plane.

(34:54)
With hotels, I think that exists where they can get you… It always seems like there’s a secret nicer room where most of the time it’s not even eligible for upgrades. It’s not on your radar. They can get food for you from whatever city you’re in, like the nicest restaurant. The concierge from the hotels can do all sorts of fun things that way. So I think whatever the invitation-only level is for Marriott hotels or Hyatt hotels or something like that where you can’t get to it with normal status matches or with normal credit card spend or normal stays, that is the status I’d want on a silver platter is whatever the secret hotel invitation-only statuses are.

Mark Ross-Smith (35:36):

That’s really interesting, hotels doing that. I agree with you, by the way. Hotels should really talk more about this. I know brands don’t really like to advertise their VIP stuff. It’s kind of like back in the day where American Express is like, “Oh, we don’t talk about the Black Card.” Remember this [inaudible 00:35:54]? Remember, back in the day, right? It had this sort of mystery about it. You knew it was there, but you didn’t really know a lot. You’d heard some things over here and here. Because status drives human behavior effectively. We want to look good. We want to drive a fast car. We want the Gold card. It drives a lot of our behavior, irrational behavior really. People wanted the Black Card because they’d heard about it.

(36:24)
So imagine if you’d heard about this hotel, they got this secret special room if you’ve got… Even just knowing about it, I think. There could be some benefit in hotels just putting it out there. Not necessarily an Instagram influencer with a billion followers go in and start doing stories and stuff, but getting it more out there could be pretty interesting because it’s kind of like brand advertising. What would you call it? It’s almost like a halo effect on a brand. I know it’s there, but I’ll never get to it. But it doesn’t matter because I stayed at the hotel that has the bowling alley in this room or whatever it is. You know what I mean? Not that you actually stayed there, it’s just they’ve got it.

Julia Menez (37:09):

When I stayed at the St. Regis in New York City, I was like, “What’s the nicest room we could be upgraded to that we weren’t even upgraded to?” There was the Madison Suite, and I think there was a Park suite or something else like that. But then when we got to the room, there was a book about the history of the St. Regis New York. There was the Tiffany suite, Tiffany being Tiffany, the jewelry company, and it was decorated in Tiffany Blue, and they had decorations of jewels. I don’t know if they just made that up for this book. I obviously didn’t just go around the hotel to try to find the Tiffany suite. But they have those things where it’s not even on the upgrade radar. So whatever secret status can get you into those things, that would be the aspirational dream for me.

Mark Ross-Smith (37:55):

[inaudible 00:37:56].

Julia Menez (37:55):

Partially just because it’s so, so secretive and because nobody even knows about it. It’s like when you find out about points and miles and then you realize 90% of your friends don’t even know about it. You’re like, “I feel so special that I even know about the Chase Sapphire Preferred.” Just knowing about that Tiffany suite, I want to be whoever gets invited into that suite.

Mark Ross-Smith (38:17):

Agree.

Julia Menez (38:18):

Do you guys work with hotels very much with StatusMatch.com since we’ve been talking about hotels for a bit, or is it mostly just focused on airline status matching?

Mark Ross-Smith (38:25):

We’ve mostly been focused on airlines. We do some artificial things with hotels, I’ll say, below the line stuff to help some brands. Airlines are more clued onto this space, I think. They’ve been doing it for a long time. They get it. They understand the economics of how it works. Hotels are definitely more focused on challenges, status challenges, totally different economics on how that works. If you are listening to this and you do work for a hotel, hit me up though because we’d love to work with you. I think we’ll see more hotels come onto our platform, though.

(38:58)
It’s interesting because what we’ve found is people contact an airline or a hotel and they get ghosted effectively. They don’t get a reply or the hotel might say, “Yeah, sure.” Like my Cathay Pacific example, “Here’s the Silver status we’ll give you.” It’s like, guys, come on. What happens is that no, no, no, no, no that people have been getting over the years, people have just stopped asking. They’ve trained people to stop asking because people tell their friends, you go to the points meetups and stuff, and it’s like, “Oh, don’t bother with blah, blah, blah brand because they just say no.”

(39:30)
What happens is people come to us, so we actually see demand across the board from airlines and hotels and stuff. Demand for status matching today is higher than it’s ever been, I think, probably in history. It’s huge. Absolutely, it’s off the charts. Some of that is driven by hotels and airlines just saying no, sadly. It’d be nice if they had a way to say yes for once.

Julia Menez (39:55):

Absolutely. I was looking through StatusMatch.com. Explain a little bit, how does the interface work for somebody who’s not on the brand side, who’s more from the consumer side? “What status matches can I even get?” How do they use your site in order to do that?

Mark Ross-Smith (40:14):

Keep mind, we’re a startup too, so keep that in mind. Not a big multi-billion dollar company. So two things, primary things. One is you can register. It’s free. You can add your statuses. So you go, “I want to add my Hyatt Globalist. I want to add my American Platinum.” You add that there. There’s a bunch of brands we work with on an ad hoc basis, like Emirates is probably a good example, where there’s effectively a rule set behind that, and Emirates is sort of saying, “What customers will we accept for a status match?” So we know pretty quickly if you’d qualify for that or not. If you do, it lets you go through a process where you could apply for a status match there.

(40:50)
We let you waitlist for… So this is a lot of brands. Effectively, what you do is you kind of register your interests, and this is really helpful. So if you go on there and you say, “I want to register my interests with someone like Delta,” we don’t work with Delta, we go to Delta, and we say, “Hey look, we’ve got a thousand people that really want to status match with you.” We don’t say who they are, but “Here’s the profile. This is about what we think they spend. This is the value of them. This many have a co-branded credit card,” all this kind of stuff. That sort of unlocks below the line opportunities.

(41:22)
I highly suggest you go, just register for free because it helps us actually go out and get more deals. There’s a lot on there already, but it helps us bring in more brands, especially the obscure ones or the really big ones, which otherwise wouldn’t ever run a status match promotion. So there’s a bit of that. Then obviously, if we do something really big with the brand, which we’ve done quite a lot of, is there’ll be a separate site. So if you go to somewhere like LATAM Airlines, if you go to latam.statusmatch.com, you can see a branded page that is created for them. That’s like a process. It’s just for them. There’s different eligibility criteria and all sorts of stuff there.

(41:58)
So when a big campaign comes out, if you’ve registered on our site, we tell you about it straight away, so you don’t have to wait for a blogger or Instagram or someone to say, “Hey, check this out.” It’s just straight on there. You get an email from us and saying, “Hey. Hey, Julia, you’ve got this American Gold status. That qualifies for X, X, X, X. Click here.” You just click it and just straight through a process really [inaudible 00:42:22].

(42:22)
Because we try to make it easy and fast because we’ve all been there where you email an airline or a hotel and you’re basically begging for status at that point. “Can I please get it? I’m moving to the city. I promise to stay 80 nights with you this year. Please give it to me.” So we just try and make it as easy for everyone as possible. You go through a process. We give you a tracking number as well, so you can actually track your status match. Some people get it within a minute. Some people, it takes a little bit longer. But we try and do things as fast as possible because that’s what we would want. That’s what I would want as a customer. I would want it as fast possible.

(43:04)
Because I tell you one thing, also if the airlines are listening, no one books a hotel room or books an airline ticket until they’ve got the status match. It’s the status that’s driving the booking. So if an airline takes four weeks to upgrade you, you’re not going to book anything in that four weeks with that brand. Probably not, not likely you won’t. So getting that into the account as fast as possible is shortening that. It’s like a revenue window. So if you got a status upgrade like that, overnight, you’re there the next day going, “I’m safe to book with this brand now because I’m Platinum now. I know I’m going to get the XYZ benefit.” Whereas if it’s not in your account yet, you’re sort of taking a gamble of, “Will I get it by the time that I check in?” There’s all this sort of stuff that comes into play. So speed, speed is key, and that’s where we try to really excel as well.

Julia Menez (43:58):

I love that idea of having the tracking number and figuring out what even happened. Because there are so many things on the internet where you’re like, “I’m going to submit this application,” and it’s just in the ether, which in the points world is super scary. If you’re like, “I’m going to transfer some points,” and that three days where you transfer it from Amex points into ANA, and then it’s just in the ether. Then you just pray that your award availability doesn’t disappear. I think it’s just human nature to hate that feeling of the waiting and the not knowing. So I love that there’s a tracking number to say, “Here’s going on with your status match application. We’re on it. Somebody’s on it. It’ll be another day. Or somebody looked at it.” Just knowing what’s going on is such a comfort to people.

Mark Ross-Smith (44:45):

I don’t know about you, but when I order an Uber or anything like that, I’m obsessing… I’m looking at the damn map on my phone seeing the little guy, his little car or his bike or whatever. Like, “Oh, he’s two minutes away, three minutes, going down this track.” I love that stuff. I’m totally obsessed. So that’s where this… Obviously, we don’t have a map of the guy driving in his car, [inaudible 00:45:05] status match, but similar idea. It’s kind of cool to know up to date, and then receiving alerts on that as well. Then you know exactly when it’s going to hit your account. I like that.

Julia Menez (45:18):

I love that. I love progress bars so much more than just the spinny wheels on computers where it’s just like, “It’s loading.” I’m like, “Is it? Is it actually loading? How close is it to loading?” So I love that there’s this tracking feature on there. And this is all free for somebody to do, right? They just go to StatusMatch.com, and they don’t have to pay an application fee or anything or [inaudible 00:45:40].

Mark Ross-Smith (45:39):

You register your details for free. If there’s a brand that you’re eligible to status match with that’s available, most of them will have a fee associated. Those fees do vary anywhere between $29 and $199, depending on the brand. Emirates is at the upper end of that. So there are fees for that. But if it’s not approved for whatever reason, like nine times out of ten it is, but if it’s not, it’s refunded anyway. So there’s no risk if you don’t get it.

Julia Menez (46:06):

You guys have a lot of loyalty programs that you support that are listed on your site. Just to go through a few of these. You guys partner with all of these? Aegean Airlines, Aeromexico, AirAsia, Air Canada, Air China, these are just the ones that start with “air,” Air India, Air New Zealand, Alaska Airlines, ANA, American Airlines, Asiana, Avianca. That’s just the ones that start with A. You partner with all of these?

Mark Ross-Smith (46:31):

I would love to say yes, but it is not quite a yes. A lot of those are wait-listing, so we don’t work with some of them yet. When you register your interest with them, it helps us get more on board, which is actually good for everyone. Because some of those brands you’ve mentioned have never run a status match in their life ever. Getting them into the fold, getting them into this, it’s actually part of the challenge as well. So we see this as the fastest way to get more brands on board, especially now. Julia, you said you have, what, six statuses or seven?

Julia Menez (47:08):

Oh, I have many statuses. I have American Airlines Platinum Pro, which is about to become Executive Platinum. I had JetBlue Mosaic, it may or may not have expired. I think my Delta Platinum expired. I have Hyatt Globalist, Marriott Titanium, Hilton Gold, which isn’t worth much, IHG Ambassador, MGM Gold, Caesars Diamond, Wyndham Diamond, some cruise ship ones that I only got because I was doing some status match testing. I haven’t been on a cruise ship in quite some time. I have Star Alliance Gold with Singapore Airlines Gold. I have a lot of statuses, mostly through status matching.

Mark Ross-Smith (47:48):

So 12 or 15 or so there? Wow. So make sure you enter all those into StatusMatch.com. These 15 or so statuses you’ve got, most people don’t have that obviously, I will guess a bunch of those that you’re not retaining on merit, obviously through COVID, airlines, hotels, they extended it for free. That’s all coming to an end. Very few airlines are extending again. Some are and hotels. Some are. Some are not. Some are just strategically doing it.

(48:15)
So there’s this thing, we’re calling it the status cliff. So effectively as of about seven days ago, it started and I’m starting to downgrade people. So we estimate that Delta, for example, on the 1st of February, downgraded, this is their best estimate, somewhere between 300,000 and 400,000 people in status. That’s some people dropping to zero, that’s some just dropping one level, but they’re dropping to some degree. If you’re losing status, it’s a tough pill to swallow. You know what I mean? You’ve got your lounge access one day, drinking champagne, happy times, and the next day you’re thrown to the gate with the crying babies. Life is very different at the gate in group eight to board the aircraft. So a lot of people are trying to keep their status, whatever it takes.

(49:04)
I think the good news is we’re going to see a lot of status matching this year, new opportunities because brands are looking at this and they’re going, “If an airline is willing to downgrade hundreds of thousands of customers,” admittedly these are not so active because obviously they’d otherwise retain it, but they’re still flying. They’re still doing stuff. They’re still alive. Still got a pulse, and they’re at least interested in it.

(49:31)
We did a survey on statuscliff.com, and we sent it out to tens of thousands of people who said, “If your airline or hotel downgrades you, what are you likely to do?” [inaudible 00:01:57] it goes through that, 86% of people said that, “If I’m downgraded, even if it’s my own fault that I’m being downgraded,” 86% said that they would shift some or all of their business to a different brand. So what that means is some people will shift all of their business, and all the business might be one flight a year now as opposed to it might’ve been 50 flights a year previously. So keep that in mind. Some business means people, they won’t do a day trip to meet a client for lunch. They’ll just do a Zoom call instead. It could be a bit of that.

(50:10)
Most people say that the shift is actually to low-cost airlines. So I think the big winner here is definitely the low-cost airlines because the idea is, “Well, my big premium brand doesn’t care about me anymore because for the last three years they’ve been telling me how important and how valuable I am and did all this amazing stuff, and then they dropped me just like that. For the first time in my life, I’m going to look at this low-cost carrier. I’ll try them.” You try it and you’re like, “You know what? This big front seat? Not that bad. I’ll try again.”

(50:40)
Before you know it, what I call disconnecting from premium loyalty where they’ll then drop the co-brand credit card of that other airline, and they’ll just fly based on price or network or some other reason that’s not loyalty-based. So the new loyalty becomes price, which is terrible for some of these airlines because if you try and compete on price, how do you compete against Spirit or Frontier? You can’t, not really if you’re a big brand. So there’s a bit of risk there. Anyway, I’ll point you to this. There’s a lot of status matching this year, absolutely, because a lot of people have been downgraded, and a lot of people want a lifeline. So there’s this window of opportunity this year starting now where I think we’re going to see a lot of interesting things in the market.

Julia Menez (51:23):

I had never heard of statuscliff.com. In my mind, it’s a survey for people whose status is literally about to fall off a cliff. Is that not what that site is?

Mark Ross-Smith (51:32):

It’s our site. We just put a survey. We call it a status cliff. The New York Times called it the elite status Armageddon, just the sheer volume of people about to lose… because the number of people losing status this year is so high. It’s never been so high ever. Status is going down like the Titanic, all sorts of doom and gloom words around people losing status. It just represents a good opportunity obviously for travelers that have status or had status and for airlines, hotels, cruise lines, car rental, and all these guys. It’s an opportunity for them to pick up customers, give them a lifeline, and get some business out of them in the future as opposed to zero.

Julia Menez (52:14):

That’s a really interesting future for the world of status matching. If you are about to fall off that cliff with statuses, because people panic all the time, every December they’re like, “I’m about to lose my Southwest Companion Pass. I’m about to lose my Hyatt Globalist. I can’t go back to the before times of the past before I had this. What do I do?” this could really be the lifeline that a lot of people are looking for. So this is fantastic. Thank you.

(52:42)
As we wrap up here, with everything that you’ve learned about status matching and elite programs and loyalty and everything, what would you say is your number one tip for all of the travel hackers, frequent flyers, all the points and miles people who are listening today, what’s your number one tip for just playing the game?

Mark Ross-Smith (53:00):

I’m going to give you a tip that no one’s going to like, but it’s the truth. Biggest pro tip, marry someone that works at an airline because you’re going to get cheap or free flights for as long as they work there. Presumably yourself, you don’t work there. As someone that’s had status with multiple airlines and done the points and miles for a long time, my now wife, she worked for an airline, and changed my life. I used to fly between Australia and Hong Kong a lot, buying [inaudible 00:53:28] miles or even Cathay Pacific in business class. Great redemption and there’s always availability. But there’s even more availability if you can get on the right flights and there’s unlimited options. So the biggest travel hack is trying to get into the system.

Julia Menez (53:41):

Try to marry into the system.

Mark Ross-Smith (53:43):

Marry into the system. It’ll change your life in a lot of ways. Actually, to be fair, in some ways, it’s taken less emphasis on points or miles because it’s like, “Well, I don’t need it as much now.” So there’s a little bit of that. A lot of staff travel. You can do one-way flights as well for the same. So it’s good for positioning yourself in certain cities so you’ve got a separate ticket that gets you out of there. Really great for that kind of stuff. It’s not for everyone obviously. Some airline staff travel allows you to add your elite status as well to the booking. You normally won’t earn any miles from the ticket, but sometimes you can get the elite benefits from it, like lounge access and priority boarding and that kind of stuff, which means you get the best of both worlds. You get cheaper and you get all the status.

Julia Menez (54:25):

For everybody who’s listening to this being like, “I’m not going to divorce my player, too, to marry a pilot or a flight attendant, what else can I do?” All the airlines are hiring still. It just seems like all airlines are still hiring. So somebody could do a career shift. That’s an option as well.

Mark Ross-Smith (54:42):

Totally, totally. It changed my life in a lot of ways. It opened my eyes to a lot of things, I think, that were out there. That’s more of a life hack actually than a points and miles hack. It’s both.

Julia Menez (54:53):

Oh, yeah. My brother-in-law is actually a pilot. I was trying to explain the whole world of points and miles to him and his now wife, my sister-in-law, and they just weren’t having it. They were like, “But we get to just fly for basically free, like cheap, more free than you’re flying for free.” I’m like, “Yep, that life hack trumps my life hack. You just marry someone in the industry.” With all of the knowledge that you’ve amassed as well, can you give a shout out to another site or resource or really any resources that you would like to direct listeners to today that have been really helpful in your journey with points and miles and elite status and status matching and everything else?

Mark Ross-Smith (55:34):

Look, the biggest thing I think has helped, this doesn’t help anyone listening, but I’ve learned the most from meeting people, so not necessarily from reading blogs or online or from Instagram stories. It’s useful, very useful, but I think meeting people with similar interests in real life. A couple of drinks, you start sharing stories, and that’s where the magic happens, the real magic happens. There’s a lot of these hacks and stuff, you think about what you read online, what you see on the forums and people tell you, that’s like the surface level stuff. Then so often there’s something pretty interesting that, “I think I know it all now.” Then when you meet people and start really sharing that stuff and listening as well, that’s like the secret hotel room you’re talking about. That’s the juicy stuff.

(56:23)
So I think if I had known that a little earlier, it would’ve been even more useful. But I think going out there, meet new people, talk about these things. That’s what travel’s really about if you think about it. It’s about connecting, seeing new places, new things, new people, talking about things, sharing ideas, sharing experiences. That’s really what this is all about. Otherwise, you wouldn’t do it. So more of that, I think, would be good advice.

Julia Menez (56:46):

I love that. Everybody who’s like, “Go deeper on Instagram,” it’s a 30-second video. You can only go so deep. So there’s the Instagram content. Then there’s the podcast YouTube content, which is still publicly available, but at least it’s longer form. But then if you do any of the pay-gated stuff, you learn a lot more stuff. But if you come to any of the meetups, which are oftentimes free or $5, and you find me after I’ve had a couple drinks, you learn a lot more of the deep secrets that I would not post on Instagram because I’ll probably get shut down if I do that.

Mark Ross-Smith (57:19):

There you go. So $20 of drinks invested in you is better than Instagram or any other paid service.

Julia Menez (57:26):

Oh, depending on what city we’re in, it probably doesn’t even take $20. I am a very, very, very lightweight, so high ROI on the travel hacking secrets that you get for like 10 bucks of drinks.

Mark Ross-Smith (57:37):

Then in that case, you’re more than welcome to come to Malaysia where it’s very cheap over here. Maybe we can go under five bucks.

Julia Menez (57:45):

Oh, yeah, yeah. I will actually be there in August, so I’ll definitely hit you up when I’m there. Speaking of, for everybody else who’s not planning to travel to Malaysia, where is the best place to find you? If anybody has any questions about StatusMatch.com or anything else, how’s the best way to get ahold of you?

Mark Ross-Smith (58:04):

LinkedIn is probably the best. I’m pretty open. I connect with everyone on there. StatusMatch.com. Otherwise Twitter, @drdoot, my handle there. I’m happy to help answer any questions that I can.

Julia Menez (58:11):

How do you spell that on Twitter?

Mark Ross-Smith (58:13):

D-R-D-O-O-T.

Julia Menez (58:15):

Perfect. Well, thank you again, Mark, so much for coming onto the show. We learned so much today. I’m really excited and interested in the future of status matching and where the industry is going to go and how that plays out for everybody in the hobby. So thank you so much for sharing all of your knowledge with us today.

Mark Ross-Smith (58:30):

It’s been fun to talk to you today, too.

Julia Menez (58:38):

Thank you so much for listening to today’s episode of the Geobreeze Travel podcast. If any of the cards mentioned in today’s episode piqued your interest, please check out the links in the show notes for more information on any of the cards. Also, if you apply for a card using the links on that page, I may receive a commission, too. So please and thank you. P.S., I hear the links work better in Internet Explorer or Safari, and sometimes the credit card applications tend to glitch out in Chrome.

(59:03)
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